Gender Differences in Willingness to Compete: The Role of Public Observability

University of Zurich, Department of Economics, Working Paper No. 257

19 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2017

See all articles by Thomas Buser

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE)

Eva Ranehill

University of Gothenburg - Department of Economics

Roel van Veldhuizen

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Date Written: June 26, 2017

Abstract

A recent literature emphasizes the importance of the gender gap in willingness to compete as a partial explanation for gender differences in labor market outcomes. However, whereas experiments investigating willingness to compete typically do so in anonymous environments, real world competitions often have a more public nature, which introduces potential social image concerns. If such image concerns are important, we should expect public observability to further exacerbate the gender gap. We test this prediction using a laboratory experiment that varies whether the decision to compete, and its outcome, is publicly observable. Across four different treatments, however, all treatment effects are close to zero. We conclude that the public observability of decisions and outcomes does not exert a significant impact on male or female willingness to compete, indicating that the role of social image concerns related to competitive decisions may be limited.

Keywords: gender differences, competitiveness, social image, experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D03, J16

Suggested Citation

Buser, Thomas and Ranehill, Eva and van Veldhuizen, Roel, Gender Differences in Willingness to Compete: The Role of Public Observability (June 26, 2017). University of Zurich, Department of Economics, Working Paper No. 257, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2997071 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2997071

Thomas Buser (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, North Holland 1018 WB
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/thomasbuser/

Eva Ranehill

University of Gothenburg - Department of Economics ( email )

Vasagatan 1
Gothenburg, 41124
Sweden

Roel Van Veldhuizen

WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin, 10785
Germany

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